If you were to examine the books in my library you would discover that many of them are underlined. Underlining reflects what is outstanding in the discourse, what is important. It brings things to light that are essential, that make a difference.
Every Christian should highlight Romans 12:1-2 in their Bibles. It is one of those sections of scripture that both connect other scriptures to it, along with pushing forward teaching that is essential to Christian life and growth. Especially in the present theological framework of experiential subjectivity amongst many modern Christian TV personalities, authors and pastors, the plea by the Apostle Paul becomes all that much more vital.
The following two renderings, The Living Translation and the Amplified Version, do a lovely job in bringing the meaning of this passage to light. Let’s read them now…
12 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)
12 [a]Therefore I urge you, [b]brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be [c]transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. (Amplified)
What is Paul encouraging us to do? To stop and think of all God has done for us in Christ. The first chapters in Romans, up to this point, (chapters 1-11) and the marvellous doxology in chapter 11, lead into this. Paul describes them as the “mercies of God.” God has been merciful to us in so many ways. He says come as you are my child, just come!
Secondly, Paul is saying, in light of this, make the Lord number one in your life. He is simply saying give Him the reigns of your life. It is an act that allows God to mold us and transform us because of our willingness to yield to Him. Our natural bent is to do things our way but Paul reminds us, daily, to stop, think and commit to the one who knows us best and wants the best for us.
Thirdly, as we do this we are actively worshiping God. Like we have talked about, worship is a lifestyle focusing on the Glory of God.
Fourthly, the foundation for this is a renewed mind, a transformed mind. As the Amplified Version states we need to focus on “godly values and ethical attitudes.” We do that by letting God’s word be our playbook, our directive for thinking and living. As the Baptist distinctive states, “Scripture is the rule for faith and practice.”
And finally, His “plan and purposes for each of us will unfold.” As we simply live for Christ His will unfolds before us. It is not difficult or mysterious. It is not something we need to labour over. God’s promise is that it is, “good and pleasing and perfect” as we apply it to lifestyle issues.
So next time you cross Romans 12:1-2, underline it; highlight it with a Bible highlighter; but more importantly, may we take the time to mediate on it and apply it to our lives.
God bless you – Pastor Ralph